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Auckland City Mission volunteers prepare Christmas presents for families in need over Christmas on December 13, 2017 in Auckland. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images
Auckland City Mission volunteers prepare Christmas presents for families in need over Christmas on December 13, 2017 in Auckland. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

SocietyNovember 30, 2018

Christmas giving: what local charities really want you to donate

Auckland City Mission volunteers prepare Christmas presents for families in need over Christmas on December 13, 2017 in Auckland. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images
Auckland City Mission volunteers prepare Christmas presents for families in need over Christmas on December 13, 2017 in Auckland. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Want to give to charity this Christmas? Hold the tinned tomatoes – here’s what they really want. 

Right now charities and community groups are being flooded with gifts, food and goods from well-meaning Samaritans looking to share a bit of Chrimbo goodwill. But the most valuable thing you can give to charity, it turns out, is a little bit of thought. Seemingly commonsense donations can often have the opposite effect, taking up valuable resources from already stretched organisations. We asked the people on the ground what they really need this Christmas.

Lorraine Taylor, Variety – the Children’s Charity’s chief executive officer

This Christmas, here at Variety – the Children’s Charity, we are not asking for physical gifts, instead inviting kind-hearted New Zealanders to gift a Kiwi kid the chance to shine this coming year.

For many Kiwi kids living in financial hardship, the chance to do anything extra, like join their school rugby or netball team, take part in swimming lessons or learn the guitar, is out of reach – which is why this Christmas, we are raising funds for our Have a Go and Gold Heart Scholarship programmes.

When families are struggling to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads, providing their children with the chance to participate in any extra-curricular activities is simply unachievable. But we believe all children in New Zealand should have access to these opportunities.

An example of the need is evident in our waiting list, where in one case a 10-year-old boy who loves soccer and idolises professional footballer Lionel Messie wants to play for his local club. But when that comes with a cost of $187 per term, plus an extra $45 for the uniform, participation is out of reach. His family’s budget is unable to stretch any further to meet these expenses.

And that’s not to mention the talented Kiwi kids who are held back from pursuing their dreams and carving out a path doing something they love because of financial limitations. Financial barriers can make or break a childhood, but this Christmas we are aiming to change that for as many Kiwi kids as we can. No matter how big or small, I implore you, if you can, please contribute to our Christmas Appeal. Funds raised will allow children across the country to follow their dreams, and more importantly, take part and have the childhood they deserve.

Please give a Kiwi kid the chance to shine by donating today.

Kelly Henderson, Wellington City Mission

Here at The Wellington City Mission we are in need of both Christmas items and essential/everyday items as we head into the holiday season. Christmas cakes, biscuits, nice relishes and sauces, and tinned fruit are all great for the Christmas hampers and parcels that we make up during this season. Of course Christmas is just one day, so we need to keep up our stock of essential items like tinned soups, tinned meats, spreads, muesli bars and milk powder as well. Hygiene and cleaning products like nappies, laundry powder and dishwashing liquid are really valuable too.

At Christmas we also provide new gifts for children, and in the past we have run low on gifts that suit 0-2 year olds and 10-14 year olds. Gift donations that suit these age groups would be greatly appreciated – things like baby toys, books, puzzles, board games, and sports equipment. Donations of Christmas crackers, wrapping paper and Sellotape are fantastic as well, as they allow the people we support to participate in Christmas just like everyone else.

Donate here.

Auckland City Mission volunteers bring out parcels of food and presents for families over Christmas on December 13, 2017. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Alexis Sawyers, Auckland City Mission

This Christmas the Auckland City Mission will provide 8000 emergency food parcels and Christmas ‘hampers’ enabling families to celebrate Christmas at home. We will distribute Christmas presents to 15,000 Auckland children who would otherwise miss out. Two thousand guests will eat at our Christmas Lunch, ensuring that everyone can celebrate and no one needs to spend the day alone. We will gift 1200 presents to community organisations for them to distribute to the families they work with. And we will continue to be there every day for Aucklanders in desperate need, providing immediate practical assistance and pathways to enable long-term wellbeing. Every Aucklander helps us do this.

The most helpful and valuable thing you can give to the Mission this year is money. One way to do so would be to buy a ‘Bad Gift for a Good Cause’. Is there someone in your family who is incredibly difficult to buy for? Or do you need a Secret Santa gift for a colleague but are stuck on what to get?  Bad Gifts for a Good Cause is an online store that allows you to ‘buy’ a novelty gift for someone you know – but the real gift is a donation to the Mission. It’s the perfect way to gift something fun but without actually gifting something that will never be used. Each gift relates to one of the Mission’s essential services.

Presents can be dropped into participating Auckland ASB branches and libraries.

Donate here.

Miles Ostick, Foodbank co-ordinator

What makes our foodbank different is that we provide food for many families when mum or dad or another provider is in hospital. The Auckland DHB and Allied Health contact us when they see a real need, and we provide food parcels to get the families through. It’s one thing to be worried about the health of someone you love, and another to have added stress when there isn’t enough food to feed the kids at home. About half of our food packages are requested by hospital and mental health services, and we provide enough food to get families through at least three days.

It’s more difficult around Christmas time, and even for families that are healthy, many will find themselves suddenly short of funds. With kids at home, that expense and stress can really get to people, so we put together special food parcels to help families out. We keep going well into January, because we know that’s when families most need the extra help.

We’re asking for people to donate items they may not think of as special, but which many of our clients consider special, like Milo, tins of fish and pasta, plus toiletries like deodorant, shampoo and soap. These are things that children and their families wouldn’t normally get for themselves. We all need a little treat this time of year.

Last year, we gave out 2,279 emergency parcels, which helped feed more than 5,100 children. We do get some donations for which we are grateful, but right now, we need to buy in 80% of our food. The need is just so great. Any donations would be very welcome – we’re always busy and food goes fast.  

The Presbyterian Support Northern Foodbank is at the back of St David’s Presbyterian Church, located at 70 Khyber Pass Road, Grafton. The physical address is 8 Madeira Lane, Grafton.

The Foodbank is open Tuesday to Friday from 9am-1pm. Donations can be dropped off on-site or at the Presbyterian Support Office at 111 Great South Road, Epsom, Monday-Friday 8.30am-4.30pm.

Presbyterian Support Northern Foodbank

Jackie Clark, The Aunties

Read Jackie Clark’s Christmas guide here. Tl;dr – charities know best what they need, so either ask them directly or just open your wallet.

Keep going!